By Charles Sercombe
Next Tuesday, Aug. 3, will be the first step in setting a new course in Hamtramck politics.
The primary election features eight city council candidates and four mayoral candidates, including the incumbent Mayor Karen Majewski.
Out of the eight council candidates, the top six vote-getters will move on to face-off on the November General Election ballot.
The top three winners of that election will become new councilmembers.
That will possibly bring three fresh new faces to the city council, because Councilmembers Saad Almasmari and Fadel Al-Marsoumi are not seeking re-election, and newly-appointed Councilmember Carrie Beth Lasley is not seeking to be elected to council.
Lasley was appointed to council to fill a seat vacated by Ian Perrotta. That position’s term ends this year.
Almasmari is taking another stab at running for mayor.
Those running for council include:
Adam Albarmaki, Armani Asad, Lynn Blasey, Cody Lown, Amanda Jaczkowski, Muhith Mahmood, former councilmember Abu Musa and Khalil Refai.
In the mayoral race, the top two vote-getters will square-off in the November election.
Mayor Majewski has been in office for 16 years, and if she is re-elected, she will become the city’s longest-serving mayor.
But her chances of serving another four-year term are looking shaky.
The word among political circles is that this is her toughest-ever challenge, and that there is a good chance one of her challengers could win.
If so, Hamtramck would have its first Muslim mayor — either its first Bangladeshi-American or Yemeni-American mayor.
Her challengers, besides Almasmari, include Asm “Kamal” Rahman and Amer Ghalib.
We reached out for comment from Majewski about her thoughts on her own re-election chances but she did not respond.
Amer Ghalib’s campaign issued a press release boasting that he raised the most money in the months leading up to the primary.
He reported receiving $17,805, and having more residents contribute to his campaign than to the other mayoral candidates.
There were 40 contributions made to his campaign, of which 19 were from Hamtramckans.
Majewski reported receiving contributions from 17 people, out of which eight are residents.
Percentage-wise, that works out to 47 percent of the contributions coming from locals for both candidates.
Majewski received $6,839, of which $600 she loaned to herself.
Almasmari reported receiving $9,296 in contributions, which all came from people living in California. The only Hamtramck resident to contribute was Almasmari, who loaned himself $514.
Asm Rahman did not submit a campaign finance report to Wayne County, which usually means that he received a waiver to not file because he did not expect to spend, or receive, over $1,000 for the primary election.
In his press release, Ghalib, a Yemeni-American, said he is optimistic he will win.
“I am proud to say that our campaign has garnered the most support from inside of Hamtramck, and it is clear that the momentum is behind us. From the beginning of this campaign, I have asserted that this will be a campaign that uplifts the voices of all Hamtramck residents; the finance disclosures are just another indication of that.”
Besides the mayor and council races, voters are being asked once again to OK a property millage tax increase of up to 10 mills to fund the city’s police and firefighter pensions.
The first time around the city asked voters to do this, it was overwhelmingly rejected.
The sentiment in the community is that the millage proposal will once again be voted down, mostly because homeowners simply can’t afford a tax hike of that amount.
Hamtramck’s financial health is not good. The city is in deficit spending, and it is burning through its budget surplus. At this rate, the city will be in the red by this time next year.
If the city defaults on its pension obligations, there will likely be a lawsuit that follows, and it’s possible that a judge could place a court-ordered tax judgment on the tax rolls to pay for the pensions.
That means there could be an even higher millage rate than the one the city is proposing.
Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, and close at 8 p.m. Many voters have already voted via absentee ballots.
For those who usually vote at precinct 6 at People’s Community Services (8633 Jos. Campau Ave), that building is now closed. Voters in that precinct will now vote at the Hamtramck Senior Plaza, located at 2620 Holbrook Ave.
There will be transportation throughout the day for voters who live in the area near the former People’s Community Center area to the Senior Plaza.
Posted July 30, 2021